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Megan Rapinoe and Emma Hayes: Leading the Way on the Crossroads of Women’s Soccer

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Emma Hayes first met Megan Rapinoe earlier than she was Megan Rapinoe. Or, simply as she was changing into Megan Rapinoe. She was not but a winner of two World Cups, not but an Olympic champion, not but captain of her nation, not but a strong and pressing voice away from the sphere. Rapinoe was not even an expert soccer participant again then, not fairly.

Hayes’s job was to alter that. In 2008, she had been appointed head coach and director of soccer operations of the Chicago Red Stars, one of many inaugural franchises within the start-up league Women’s Professional Soccer. Hayes had a clean slate to fill, a staff to assemble from scratch. Rapinoe was her first name.

That, maybe, is the most effective measure of how brightly Rapinoe’s expertise shone. When coach and participant first met, Rapinoe was only a 23-year-old straight out of the University of Portland, however the energy dynamic already lay in her favor. She didn’t have to persuade Hayes. Instead, Hayes needed to promote her on the staff, on the undertaking, on town.

And so she confirmed Rapinoe, born and raised in California, round Chicago, hoping to steer her that the transfer to the banks of Lake Michigan would go well with her. It labored. The Red Stars drafted Rapinoe second total forward of the league’s first season.

The W.P.S. didn’t final. It survived for simply three seasons. By the time it closed down, Hayes had lengthy since departed the Red Stars. Rapinoe, although, was simply getting began.

As a lot as Hayes was satisfied of Rapinoe’s promise, even she wouldn’t fake to have identified simply how far she would go. This weekend, Rapinoe — 38 now — will lastly name time on her profession. Her plan is for her exit to be framed by ticker-tape and fireworks: with one final triumph, serving to OL Reign to assert victory in opposition to Gotham F.C. within the N.W.S.L closing, a suitably superb coda to a glittering profession.

It isn’t any exaggeration to say that, for greater than a decade, Rapinoe has been the defining participant in girls’s soccer. It just isn’t merely that she was a key half within the United States’ victory within the 2015 World Cup, and the driving drive behind its repeat triumph 4 years later. It is that her activism, her unwillingness to close up and play, turned the U.S. girls’s staff into one thing that transcended sports activities. As a consequence, she helped set the tone for girls’s soccer as an entire.

It is becoming that Rapinoe’s curtain name ought to come simply as Hayes, the girl who did a lot to launch her profession, ought to return to the United States. Not formally, in fact; at this stage, the truth that Hayes would be the subsequent coach of the U.S. girls’s staff is merely an open secret, a fait accompli that should — for now — stay swaddled by a heat blanket of euphemism.

Anonymous sources will go solely so far as saying Hayes and U.S. Soccer have been “in talks.” Chelsea, the membership Hayes has coached for the final decade to appreciable success, will solely say that the 47-year-old coach will depart on the finish of the present season to be able to “pursue a new opportunity” exterior of England’s Women’s Super League and the membership sport. Quite what that chance is likely to be just isn’t revealed.

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